I STARTED KEEPING a daily diary that centered on the Coronavirus pandemic in late February, 2020. It is a personal record of my days, which often include impacts of Covid-19, although to date I have been fortunate not to encounter the virus directly.
I also write down one or more news headlines most days, something that strikes me. And because I was reading Daniel Defoe's "Journal of the Plague Year," in the early days of my journal, I sometimes quote from Defoe's 1721 work, passages that resonate, often eerily, nearly 300 years later.
EARLY DAYS: Increasing awareness of the coronavirus
NINE PAGES, NINETEEN DAYS OF CORONAVIRUS: We follow the shocking news in Italy, cancel our forthcoming trip there and drive from Southern California to our home in Bellingham, Washington -- as everything changes.
February 24 to March 13, below.
By late February, we realize we'll have to cancel our spring trip to Italy
INTO MARCH: Canceled, closed, stay home
EIGHTEEN MORE DAYS OF MARCH : The governor orders restaurants and bars closed, and cancels events and large gatherings. "Stay home, stay safe," is the watchword. Covid-19 hits too close to home with my son's sickness. Donald Trump's lies are appalling. We develop a new vocabulary and adopt new habits, deal with shortages of toilet paper and flour, follow the horrendous situation in New York City and a super-spreader event nearby. We have trouble sleeping. Bird sightings offer a brief respite.
March 14 to March 31, below.
I wonder if 16 pairs of white cotton gloves will add a layer of protection.
Restaurants and bars ordered to close in various states and cities: Ohio, Illinois, California, Washington.
St. Patrick's parades are cancelled in Boston, Dublin, Chicago. Bars and restaurants closed in many cities and states, including Washington.
Friends and family around us, affected by the pandemic
A scary brush with the virus: Zak has symptoms of Covid-19 (but can't be tested).
Our 90-year-old neighbor expresses our own thoughts: "Is this all a bad dream?"
Shops and restaurants close; signs go up. "Closed until things get better"
Trump: "It's like a miracle -- it will disappear."; "We have a tremendous testing set-up." "Anyone who needs a test gets a test."
The words and expressions that we use so often now, in Italy and in the U.S.
With this phrase, Governor Inslee ramps it up.
Common problems: we can't concentrate or sleep well. We wake in the night and think we have symptoms of the virus.
We order food to be delivered, for the first time ever. Going "out" for coffee means bringing a thermos of coffee to drink in the car.
The stress of shopping with masks, gloves, wipes, hand-washing and surgical instructions. The comfort of homemade food.
Bodies are hauled away in refrigerated trucks, the modern version of the Plague Year's death carts
Amid the lies from Trump about how all will be well by Easter, we watch a large variety of birds from our window.
APRIL & MAY: How will we deal with this?
MASKS, TIME, NUMB-ERS, WORRIES : We start wearing masks all the time. No one comes in our house. I meet with friends, visit grandkids, take classes in Italian and Tai Chi, observe Passover -- all on Zoom. The numbers of the dead are overwhelming. Roy gets sick and we worry that it's Covid-19. Protesters rail against the governor's stay-at-home order. We drink coffee and eat sweets in the afternoon to try to cheer ourselves. I have a record number of migraines. Trump holds a rally at the Lincoln Memorial and tells states to open up as fast as they can. Toilet paper ordered a month ago arrives from China. A shocking 100,000 people die from Covid in the U.S. George Floyd is killed by police in Minneapolis and protests break out across the country.
April and May, 2020, below.
"...while we may still have more to endure, better days will return..."
Unprecedented takes on a double meaning
Taking classes in your pajamas really isn't that great.
Protesters and Trump criticize Governor Inslee
CDC reverses its position on masks and now recommends cloth masks
He suggests that injecting disinfectant could kill Covid-19 inside the body!
50,000 dead in U.S. Before I finish the page, it's 60,000.
Roy gets sick and is tested for Covid-19. It takes four days to find out the test is negative.
Trump rallies at the Lincoln Memorial; we feel depressed.
Whether in Italian or in English, the virus doesn't care what you think
The toilet paper arrives from China; an expert says the virus "may never go away."
We experience nostalgia for things done just months ago. "Remember February, when we went out to breakfast?"
But our perception of time has become so warped.
Marking a few of the many lives lost to the coronavirus
The horrible week.